The coronavirus “rule of six” has come into force in England. It means that any social gatherings of more than six people now break the law. But the new measure faces a mounting backlash from MPs and scientists. Prof Carl Heneghan from Oxford University writes thatthe policy is “catastrophic”, not supported by scientific evidence and “should be binned”as it “could well be the policy that tips the public over the edge”. The Government’s tough new measures are designed to reverse a sharp rise in coronavirus infection rates. But what if they do not? Ministers believe anational curfewwould be an “obvious next step”. Pubs and restaurants in local lockdown areas are already closing at 10pm and the measure could be rolled out more widely. Read asimple guide to what you can and cannot legally dofrom today. Looking on the bright side,Shane Watsonargues why the new rule hasfound the perfect number.
It comes amid concern that NHS measures to stem Covid-19 are having devastating consequences, with patients denied basic healthcare. GPs are now beingordered to give patients “face-to-face” appointmentsor face possible investigation. A letter is today being sent to every family doctor in the country, following growing fears that too many patients are “shut out” from surgeries and allowed only video or telephone consultations. Is “telemedicine” reliable?This featureinvestigates.
Justice Secretary threatens to quit over Brexit Bill
The Justice Secretary said he willresign over any “unacceptable” breach of international lawas Boris Johnson tried to quell a Conservative rebellion over his plans to amend the Brexit divorce deal. Robert Buckland said he did not believe the Government would “get to that point” where it had to break the Withdrawal Agreement signed with the EU last year, but added that if it did, “I know in my mind what I have to do”. Parliament is preparing this week to debate legislation that would reverse aspects of the EU divorce deal.Our Q&Aexplains how the law could be broken. Meanwhile, negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier accused each other of misleading the public in asocial media spat.
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds baptise baby
Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds have had their son Wilfredbaptised in a Covid-secure ceremony. Wilfred’s baptism was witnessed by a small number of family and friends. The couple did not host a reception afterwards. Their four-month-old son was born less than three weeks after Mr Johnson was released from intensive care after contracting coronavirus. Political EditorGordon Raynerreports the service was“simple but beautiful, with lots of tears and laughter”.
At a glance: More coronavirus headlines
Also in the news: Today’s other headlines
Intelligence operation| A Chinese technology company has compiled a database on tens of thousands of British figures and their families for the use of the country’s intelligence agencies.Our exclusive special reportreveals that files on an estimated 40,000 Britons are stored on a Chinese server as part of a massive intelligence collection operation by a private firm that describes its mission as “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”. From royals to politicians –who is on the Chinese database?
Around the world: Women lead the revolt in Belarus
For 24 hours, Tamara Shpakova was in custody after being arrested in Minsk, passing out from the pain of a broken kneecap.Nataliya Vasilyevahasour dispatchon the brutal aftermath of the Belarus protests in which women led the revolt. View ourdaily world gallery.